Initial Timing Setting - Pontiac GTO Forum
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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-19-2012, 07:53 PM Thread Starter
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Initial Timing Setting

Hey all, I am still slowly but steadily working out all of the kinks with my car. My question is about setting initial timing. I brought my #1 cylinder up to TDC and marked the location of this on my harmonic balancer. I moved the engine over so that it shows 8* BTDC. I installed my distributor and made sure the tower and rotor lined up and connected my #1 spark plug wire to that specific tower and went around the distributor counter clockwise hooking up the correct wires to the corresponding cylinder based off of the firing order.

So it is currently sitting at 8*BTDC with the distributor installed correctly and the proper firing order which I have triple checked.

My problem is that when I try and start the engine it will start, backfire and immediately die. I thought that maybe I was off because I set the engine at TDC on the wrong stroke, but this wasn't the case( The #1 cylinder goes to TDC on 2 separate strokes correct?)

I was also curious about the notch that's on my harmonic balancer. It is at TDC when it's lined up with the 0 tab off of my timing chain cover but does it make 2 full revolutions? I didn't know if I could turn it to 0 and know it's on the right stroke 100% of the time or if it meant that it was at TDC for the compression stroke and TDC for the exhaust stroke.

Thanks for any help. I wish I had friends or family who could just show me and the informational videos online all seem to not get through to me.
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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-19-2012, 08:04 PM
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At TDC the number 1 cylinders valves both have to be closed, if 1 is open then you are 180 out. Backfiring through the carb sounds like you are 180 out. Set it at tdc when you drop it in. If it backfires out the exhaust, turn it counterclockwise. Out the carb, turn it clockwise. Good luck.

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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-19-2012, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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Jetstang, thanks for the reply. I also believe I am 180 off after looking online. Just so I'm clear does turning it counter clockwise advance or retard it? I have a paper that I've been adding to so I can reference back to it down the road and wasn't too sure.
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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-19-2012, 09:34 PM
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Just remember turning distributor against rotation advances it, with rotation retards it. I miss the old days when you could actually work on them without computers, scanners, all the other stuff..

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 05-20-2012, 07:11 AM
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Answering one of your original questions: yes the timing marks on the balancer will show TDC two times: once on the compression stroke and once on the exhaust stroke. If you want an easy way to tell which is which, remove the drivers side valve cover and watch the rockers. At TDC compression both valves will be closed. (TDC exhaust will have the exhaust valve open). Another way is to remove #1 spark plug and crank the engine over while holding your thumb over the spark plug hole, when the pressure blows past your thumb, that's compression.

Do you have a points-type ignition still? If I'm reading you right, the way you set the timing really won't really work well enough to get you close. The right way to do it with the engine off is to start by doing what you did, then with the distributor cap still off and the clamp loose, turn the distributor body until you see/hear the points open. That's the "point" where the coil will actually fire. Clamp it down there and it should be close enough to allow the motor to run. Of course you'll want to re-check and reset with a good timing light once you have it up and running.


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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-20-2015, 02:27 PM
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Can someone email me instructions for installing a distributor and setting initial timing? Should the timing mark be on 0 or on the timing setting (10 for my engine) when initially dropping in the distributor? New to the forum. Appreciate any help. email address [email protected]
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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 07-21-2015, 12:43 PM
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Turn engine by hand until # i piston is on TDC COMPRESSION. Verify that the timing mark on the balancer is at 0 degrees. Install distributor so that when it rests flush with the block, the rotor will be pointing directily at #1 terminal on the dist. cap. This may take some trial and error. The ignition timing is then adjusted after the car is running by turning the DISTRIBUTOR, not the balancer, as the OP did. What Needlz did guaranteed the car would be out of time and would not run. Don't do that!
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